Between 1975 and 1 April 1986, public transport by bus in the metropolitan county of South Yorkshire, England, was increasingly subsidised. Trends in road traffic accident casualties between 1974 and 1983 in all the six provincial English metropolitan counties have been compared in order to examine the possible effect of this unique subsidy on the incidence of road traffic accident casualties. During that period the total number of casualties in South Yorkshire did not change significantly compared to the other metropolitan counties. However, the proportion of all casualties in South Yorkshire who were bus occupants did increase relative to other metropolitan counties, indicating either an increase in the amount of bus travel or a decrease in travel by other modes. There was a large increase in bus patronage in South Yorkshire relative to the other metropolitan counties, and the conclusion is that it is the transport policy in South Yorkshire which resulted in an actual increase in distances travelled by bus. Since bus is the safest form of road travel, it is concluded that the public transport subsidy in South Yorkshire has benefited the health of the local population by providing the social amenity of additional travel at the least additional health cost.
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